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How history repeats itself when we plan for OT Anniversaries!

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Near the beginning of this series on the history of the occupational therapy profession I documented how many of the details about George Barton and Consolation House were beginning to fade.  A concerted effort near the 50th anniversary of the profession helped to preserve some memory and connection to Consolation House, but planning for this event was very complicated.

I was excited today to hear that there was some beginning plans to commemorate the occupational therapy Centennial by having some ceremony or re-dedication plaque in Clifton Springs.  This is all in the beginning stages of planning, but it reminded me about the initial plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary in Clifton Springs.  I thought I would share some of the source documentation that went into that planning.

During the planning stages for the 50 year celebration the Consolation House was privately owned by Mr. William Wright.  Here is a letter that was written to Mr. Wright from AOTA President Florence Cromwell o…

Analysis of the AOTA claim of a gender-based wage gap in occupational therapy

The American Occupational Therapy Association recently publicized a claim that although 90.9% of respondents in their workforce survey were women that male practitioners make 14.7% more than women, despite setting, years of education, or position.

 They added the following editorial comments: "Want to earn what you deserve and be more confident? You don’t have to join the boys’ club or be aggressive."

This is an interesting claim so I decided to research these statements and see if they could be validated.  Data on wage disparity was not previously collectible in OT because of low numbers of men responding to workforce or wage surveys.  There was a parallel problem in the nursing profession.  However, in a recent large scale study in the nursing profession (also dominated by women wage earners) male nurses made $5,100 more on average per year than female colleagues in similar positions (Muench, Sindelar, Busch, and Buerhaus, 2015).  However, the study reports that about h…

Sad days

"Today is my sad day," stated Lauren, in a matter of fact tone.

I work with many children who have superior language skills.  Often, those language skills outpace motor expression and emotional coping ability.  Sometimes doctors or psychologists call it a non-verbal learning problem or sometimes they will label it Asperger's Syndrome if the child has other behavioral quirks.  Either way, I am accustomed to hearing kids say things to me that would take the average listener off guard.

Lauren was a quick-witted and confident child with uneven red bangs from her own attempts at hair-styling.  Besides those bangs she had long tangled curls cascading down her back because she could not stand having her hair brushed.  Lauren had a habit of curling and twisting her hair in her hands, contributing to the tangles.  The mom intended to cut her hair to her shoulders but Lauren bargained herself a delay because she wanted long hair and also because she had the ability to perform verb…

Thought exercise for occupational therapists

Thought exercise:Take special note of the 'Service to society' section [my emphasis added]. Are we still providing this service? Or are we now chasing some other objectives that are out of sync with this original intent? REPRINTED FROM:CAREERS FOR WOMEN EDITED BY CATHERINE FILENE THE OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST MARJORIE B. GREENE Registrar, Boston School of Occupational Therapy Boston, 1920.Description of occupation Occupational therapy is one of the new professions for young women. The necessity and importance of this work was firmly established in military hospitals during the late war and its future success is secure. The civilian hospitals are waiting for trained workers, and we believe that it is but a short time before every hospital and institution will employ at least one aide. The training is designed to develop not only artistic and mechanical skill and dexterity, but also ability to cooperate with every branch of the hospital service in order that the…

A tale of two Mertons

In her famous Slagle lecture, Reilly describes the importance of criticism in professions in general and in occupational therapy in particular.  She stated that
"...a card-carrying critic must do more than merely engage in critical thinking. Judgments made by a critic must emerge from a discreet use of techniques which are difficult to master and dangerous to apply. Basically, the skill is dependent upon an ability to analyze, interpret and synthesize. A critic must have a sharply developed capacity to see deficiencies in data and fallacies in interpretation. The best stock in trade that any critic has is a discerning eye for trends and an ability to pattern and verbalize them. Whether a critic is worth listening to is usually decided by an ability to use language well, by a creativeness in synthesizing new relations and by courage to propose provocative hypotheses. Ultimately, however, a good critic rests his case upon how well he has been able to restructure the i…

Editing the American influence out of the history of occupational therapy

During the very long social justice debate that preceded the revised AOTA Code of Ethics there were repeated claims that social justice represented a Core Value of the occupational therapy profession.  Those claims have been thoroughly addressed here and here.  In these entries and several other previous entries information was presented to support the claim that American influences are germane to understanding the driving forces behind the formation of the profession.

In my ongoing readings related to this topic I was comparing textbooks and am developing some new questions.  I am very curious about information that was recently edited out of the new edition of the Occupational Perspective of Health, 3rd ed (Wilcock and Hocking, 2015).

In An Occupational Perspective of Health, 2nd ed., Wilcock (2006) discusses the driving forces leading up to the formation of the occupational therapy profession.  She explains that changes occurred as Ruskin and Morris' ideas (via the Arts and Cr…

I vaant to TELL you zomething!

I want to share a message about authenticity in therapeutic relationships.

Jim was a 40 year old man who participated in  a day treatment program in a rural community.  The program itself was conceived and nurtured by Jim's parents along with other parents who were desperately trying to find non-institutional program options for their children.  Jim had cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability.  He attended that community program as a school child and eventually 'graduated' into the adult day treatment program.  The program grew from providing services to just a few children to several hundred people with developmental disabilities of all ages.  The program was an act of love, gifted by parents to their children.  That is the best way I can think to describe programs that developed this way.

I am not sure how aware Jim was of all that.  He was mostly focused on relationships with people and he had no disability in that social arena.

I had no special relationship wi…

Narrative summary of the ACOTE Occupational Therapy Entry Level Survey

*This represents MY Summary and opinions on this report:

As part of the process of gathering data to inform decision making regarding the entry level degree required for occupational therapy practice, the Accreditation Council on Occupational Therapy Education conducted a survey.

In summarizing these statistics, categories of respondents were combined to simplify analysis.  Also, in summarizing agreement or disagreement, categories of 'strongly agree' and 'agree' were combined as were 'strongly disagree' and 'disagree.'

That survey was open between March 13, 2015 and closed May 15, 2015.  There were 2,829 respondents.  The generalized categories of respondents were OT practitioners (50%), OT students (19%), OT academicians (29%),and employers (3%).

The overwhelming majority of respondents (71%) agreed that the OT profession should embrace a single entry level.  This opinion was similar across all categories of respondents.

When asked if the body of OT e…

Investigating the status of "The Pledge and Creed for Occupational Therapists"

A little over a year ago I presented an argument that the Emmanuel Movement provided important core values for the occupational therapy profession.  This argument was constructed in context of a debate on whether or not Social Justice was a historical value of the profession.

I was curious as to why we neglected to include the Emmanuel Movement when we discussed our values and beliefs.  In the beginnings of the 20th century the Emmanuel Movement was based on the notion that a new method was required to address the social problems of disability and illness.  That new method was a philosophy regarding responsibility and self reliance - and surrounded by Christian values of charity.

Furthermore, that method was most certainly not based on a governmental model of redistribution or in a new age construct of oppression and liberation.  That fact is what made some of the recent social justice debates so curious.


Ethical occupational therapy practice in nursing home care

I teach ethical decision making to occupational therapy students.  One of the most common concerns that I hear from students each year is the pressure that they experience regarding productivity and 'meeting minutes requirements' in skilled nursing facilities.  Nursing homes receive higher rates of reimbursement based on intensity of rehab services that are provided, so there is an incentive for facilities to provide as much 'high intensity' therapy as possible.

Typically, the students express ethical distress because they often believe that the recipients of these services are receiving marginal or no benefit from their participation.

As a population, OT students feel disempowered about expressing concerns in this area during their fieldwork experiences because

a) they perceive that they are 'just students' and don't want to make waves
b) they feel confused because their clinical preceptors are all engaging in the behavior
c) they have competing pra…

The occupational therapy profession's indecisive step toward its Centennial Anniversary

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The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education released an unexpected set of decisions last week.

In sum, the two decisions promote the concept of dual entry levels for OTA education and dual entry levels for OT education.  The OTA dual entry (associates and baccalaureate) is an entirely new concept while the OT dual entry (masters and doctoral) follows a year-long debate on whether or not the profession should adopt the doctoral level as a single point of entry.

The reason why each of these decisions was surprising is because they contradicted the publicized opinions of the American Occupational Therapy Association, the member group for the profession.

As such the 'problem' with the decisions doesn't rest with ACOTE alone, but rather represents a community of professionals that are at odds with themselves and unsure of how to move toward the future.

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Regarding OTA education, an Ad Hoc Committee of AOTA looked at the complex issues surrounding OTA educa…